Eye-opening documentaries, nostalgic mood pieces and stirring Spanish drama are at the heart of our favourite cinema picks this month
Film of the month: Pain and Glory
Anyone who’s ever seen an Almodóvar film recognises the luxury of being immersed in his world; it’s a rare treat to be savoured like a fleeting taste of genuine happiness. The Spanish maestro’s latest offering is no different. Heftily borrowing from the Fellini classic, Otto e Mezzo, Pain and Glory looks at an ageing film director, Salvador, who reminisces about his childhood in rural Spain and the life stages that followed: a passionate youth, a fruitful career and the beginning of decline which brings us to his present state: crippled by a writer’s block as well as his many ailments, and a dangerously escalating appetite for heroin.
He’s played here resplendently by Almodóvar’s long-time collaborator, Antonio Banderas. Arguably in his greatest role to date, he imbues Salvador with tenderness and childlike vulnerability, completely devoid of his normally inseparable sexuality. One brief gaze from him is enough to disarm us: innocent but piercingly perceptive, it flat out declares that there’s nowhere for us to hide from life’s painful trials. It’s a nimbly told and compelling drama that nevertheless won’t fail to make you chuckle; the director clearly hasn’t lost his penchant for self-deprecation, treating his own descent into ripe age with wit and good humour, benevolently inviting us to the same.
Blinded By the Light
This unapologetic ode to Bruce Springsteen tells the story of a teenage boy living in 1980s Luton whose life is transformed by The Boss’ music. The film equivalent of an over-zealous, bright-eyed uni fresher, Blinded by the Light can be a tad overbearing and sickeningly saccharine, but if you’re a fan of old Bruce (or Rob Brydon, for that matter), you might just fall head over heels.
If all you associate Satanism with is virgin sacrifice and upside-down crosses, you might find yourself tickled and upliftingly surprised watching director Penny Lane’s new film, Hail Satan? Following the “nontheistic” religious group from Salem, Massachusetts, who call themselves “The Satanic Temple”, the film traces their speedy rise to prominence and the many successful political rallies and projects behind it, eg, getting a Ten Commandments monument removed from Oklahoma’s State Capitol.
It’s a fun, self-deprecating and eye-opening documentary that, at the very heart of it, promotes equality, freedom of speech and the importance of kindness. Very diabolical indeed.
Inna De Yard
Join a rowdy bunch of pioneering musicians on a journey deep into the heart of reggae. Starting with its origins in 1960s Jamaica, and dipping into its many incarnations like ska and rocksteady, Inna De Yard offers a vibrant history of reggae as well as a captivating portrait of the streets of Jamaica in all their gritty glory.
But the tastiest morsels are moments spent with the musicians themselves, as they “capture the music in its virgin state”, ie, jam and revisit old hits, each with his distinct style and delivery; whether it’s the peculiar wails of the Cedric Myton or the laidback swagger of Winston McAnuff. Still bursting with vitality and gusto, their musings and shenanigans are bound to make any reggae fan squeal with joy.
Inna De Yard is released in UK cinemas on August 30. For more info visit: www.innadeyard.film
This biographical drama from Joanna Hogg is largely based on the director’s early years as a film student in 1980s Britain. Quiet and content in its simplicity, the film takes pleasure in enigmatic sentiments, unuttered emotions and a great retro soundtrack. Our heroine is the goodhearted but gullible Julie who falls for the arrogant but infuriatingly charming Anthony. As she grows increasingly attached to him, he grows increasingly dependent on her wealth and generosity. It’s a ponderous, moody cocktail but do stick with it—the rewards are manifold.
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